Friday, October 8, 2010

Sushi On The Dais At Cilantro Thai And Sushi

I had heard a lot of good things about a local addition to the local food scene in Akron, Cilantro Thai and Sushi Restaurant. While I knew it was downtown, I had never really bothered to find out where until today. I had been hanging out with some friends when the idea of eating dinner came up. Naturally, they turned to me for a suggestion and when I asked them what type of food they were eager to try, Thai food came into the conversation. When I mentioned that Cilantro had been on my "Place To Eat" list for a while, they quickly agreed that we should head there tonight for dinner.

Cilantro was located at 326 South Main Street, Akron, OH 44308 and can be reached at 330-434-2876. There was no parking available specifically for the restaurant, but there was plenty of available curbside parking and since we had gone on a Sunday, it was essentially free since the meters weren't being monitored. As it turned out, the restaurant was actually only a few blocks south of the stadium where the Akron Aeros play and just a few more blocks away from the Lock 3 Park area.

Here was a shot of the front entrance:

Entrance to Cilantro Thai and Sushi Restaurant
As you open the door, a rather annoying electronic beep could be heard. Once inside the main doors, the entrance to Cilantro was on the right. Another set of beeps was heard once those doors had been breached as well. The first thing I noticed once inside the restaurant was how expansive it was. It had a real art deco, early to mid 1930's feel to it and in the middle of the restaurant, was the sushi bar on a dais. What I didn't realize at the time I dined at Cilantro was that this was the location of the old Piatto restaurant (now Piatto Novo at the Sheraton in Cuyahoga Falls). While you could definitely seat yourself at the sushi bar for a more authentic sushi experience, today we were in the mood for the Thai portion of the menu.

Speaking of the menu, here were snapshots that I took:

Cilantro's Menu Page 1
Cilantro's Menu Page 2
Cilantro's Menu Page 3
Cilantro's Menu Page 4
Cilantro's Menu Page 5
Cilantro's Menu Page 6
As you can see from the photos above, it was a combination of about half Thai and half Japanese dishes. I liked the fact that the Japanese portion of the menu wasn't just sushi. I rarely eat just sushi for dinner anymore and like you will see in just a bit, I more often order a few choice pieces as an appetizer.

I decided to start my meal out with two orders of nigiri sushi, two pieces per order:

Nigiri Sushi Appetizer
Here you have both hamachi (yellow tail) and unagi (barbecued eel). As with most sushi, it was artfully and simply presented and it was incredibly fresh and tasty. Even the vinegared rice (which is what sushi actually means in Japanese) tasted recently made. Both types of seafood had a clean taste to them and it was clear that whomever was running the sushi bar knew what good seafood should taste like. I did use just a tiny bit of wasabi with the hamachi, but other than a light dip in some soy sauce, I ate them as they were plated.

Having finished our appetizers, I eagerly awaited my main course, a green curry with chicken. Why eagerly awaited, gentle reader? When I ordered it, I asked for the range of spiciness at Cilantro. Our server informed us that the dishes could be made from zero (0) to five (5). When I asked if five really was the hottest level, my server hemmed and hawed a little bit before admitting that there really was an additional level of heat, "Thai spicy." As I'm sure any long time reader of my blog already knows, I have employed that term "Thai spicy," in numerous Thai restaurants only to find out that for true Thai spicy food, in the end I always have to add extra superlatives to the phrase such as "extra Thai hot" or "extra extra Thai spicy."

Our waitress today assured me that "Thai spicy" was the hottest the kitchen would make it and she had never seen anyone actually order it that spicy since she had started working there. Still skeptical I would get the food at the right spice level, I went ahead and ordered it "Thai spicy." I'm glad I did.

Here was a shot of the curry I received:

Thai Spicy Green Curry with Chicken
Two things bothered me when this was coming to our table. First, either the kitchen was sloppy or our server was a tad uncoordinated because there was sauce all over the rim of the plate. I have a feeling that because there wasn't anything between the ceramic plate and the ceramic bowl in which the curry had been plated, the bowl had slid around a bit too much between kitchen and table. Second, I was concerned because there didn't appear to be a lot of red flakes in the curry, usually a good sign that fresh Thai chillies had been used.

Not to be deterred, however, I spooned some of the curry over the inverted bowl of steamed rice I had received with my meal:

Inverted Bowl of Steamed Rice
As I took those first few tentative bites, I tasted the green curry, the coconut milk, and the intense heat from the chillies. Apparently the lack of red flecks didn't mean a whole lot because this baby was on fire with chili heat. This was exactly what I was after and after I offered my dining companions a bite (they ordered their dishes at a two), they politely declined figuring that they wouldn't be able to taste anything else after trying my dish. The curry itself was quite tasty and the chicken was cooked through but still tender.

Having finished about half of my curry and rice, I boxed up the remainder for a spicy late night snack later that day. Between my sushi appetizers and my green curry chicken, the bill came to just over $22 with tax. Given that I would get two meals out of it, I think for this level and quality of food, it was definitely worth the price. Up until this point, when I had been jonesing for Thai food, I had been going to Siamone's Thai Pub over by Springfield Lake. Knowing that I have another Akron restaurant where I can get my "Thai spicy" fix (with the additional benefit that Cilantro's menu offered far more dishes than Siamone's) for Thai food and with the quality of the sushi I had received tonight, I highly recommend that you give Cilantro Thai and Sushi Restaurant a try. I know that I intend to return very soon for another great authentic meal.

Cilantro Thai & Sushi Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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